Bernard Jackson
Bernard Jackson

The second of two former University of Colorado football players sentenced in January to more than five years in prison for burglary was released Tuesday and ordered to serve probation instead.

Former CU quarterback Bernard Jackson, 24, was granted a sentence of five years' probation Tuesday in Boulder County District Court after serving less than a year of his prison sentence. Lionel Harris, 24, was sentenced to probation last week.

Jackson, who came to CU from Corona, Calif., in 2003, will begin his probation sentence at the Boulder County Jail, where he will be on work release until probation officials approve a place for him to live.

Numerous friends spoke on his behalf at Tuesday's hearing, including Liz Polumbus, who offered her home in Highlands Ranch as a place for him to stay. Polumbus is married to Tyler Polumbus, a Denver Bronco and Jackson's former teammate at CU.

Jackson's attorney told the court that Polumbus' home seems like his best living option.

District Court Judge James Klein said he's encouraged by the amount of support for Jackson.

"You've come a long way from the streets of L.A., and you've done remarkably well," Klein said. "But you hit a bump, and it was a pretty big bump. ...

"I'm as confident as the others in this room that you'll get back on the right track and do the right thing and be successful."

Klein encouraged him to finish school and consider staying with football.

"And don't do that again," he said.

Jackson -- wearing a red prison jumpsuit, dark-rimmed glasses and a wide grin -- spoke at the hearing mostly to the people who were there to support him.

"It sucks having to be up here in front of you people like this, but this is a learning experience for me, and I promise it's the last -- as far as an experience like this goes," Jackson said. "I love you guys with all my heart, and I appreciate all you've done for me."

Jackson and Harris broke into a University Hill apartment in June 2008 while wearing masks like those in the movie "Scream" and wielding a handgun. They left with less than $500. They were sentenced Jan. 22 after pleading guilty to felony charges of second-degree menacing.

Several charges were dropped as part of the plea deal that landed them both 51/2 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections. Harris spent a little more than a year behind bars before being released to a halfway house in September. He was placed on probation Nov. 24.

Until Tuesday's hearing, Jackson was at the Rifle Correction Facility -- which is like a work camp -- and was a minimum-custody offender who worked various jobs in the community before being locked up again at night.

Prosecutor Amy Okubo asked the court to sentence Jackson to "intensive supervision" probation. Judge Klein denied that request after Jackson's attorney, Yasmin Forouzandeh, argued that too much supervision can be counterproductive.

Jackson became starting quarterback for the Buffaloes in 2006. His CU career ended before his senior season in 2007, when he was ruled academically ineligible.

In early 2006, the young father learned his son had a type of eye cancer. Before being ruled ineligible, Jackson admitted that the pressures of being a father to a sick child and a student-athlete had been hard for him.

At Tuesday's hearing, a CU instructor said Jackson is four classes from earning his degree and that she's willing to help him.

Kim Moss, who befriended Jackson six years ago through her family's support of CU football, spoke at the hearing -- with her young daughter by her side -- about how much Jackson has meant to her family and how disappointed she was by his crime.

"When I found out, my response was anger," she said. "He'd been given this great opportunity at the university to be a success story, and I was mad."

But Moss said she's hopeful Jackson will turn his life around.

"Bernard wrote us the most thoughtful and sweet letters consistently while in prison," Moss said. "They were filled with remorse and wanting to have a second chance and get back on his feet."